The Corona and Me

Can we just chat for a minute? Heart-to-heart?

I’ve struggled with anxiety for a looooooong time.

It was there in high school when I would stress about school late into the night and end up crying in my mom’s arms for a few minutes until I pulled myself together and finished my homework.

It was there in college: school- and grade-related, relationship-related, and life-choice-related. I struggled with belonging in a school that was a different religion than me. Making new friends wasn’t stressful, but losing my closest ones crushed me. I didn’t know what I’d major in, what I wanted to do. What if I ended up living in my parents basement drinking soda, reading, and never living up to my potential? What if I could never achieve enough to be proud of myself?

It was there in all the uncertainty of my first two years of real adulthood. Finding jobs, moving, changing jobs, financial strain, relational strain, everything. It was always there. During the happy times, it lurked around the corner, a dark shadow in the corner of my vision, waiting for a quiet moment in my head to shove dark thoughts in my field of vision. We are so blessed… but that means it could be taken away even more quickly. Last time something good happened, something bad followed… it’ll happen again. It always does.

Now, more than ever, I am struggling with my anxiety.

I am a planner. (See various posts about planning, planners, scheduling, etc.) I control my anxiety by always being prepared for any possible scenario and having structure to my days/weeks/months. I plan things to look forward to when I know I’ll need a break. I schedule hard working chunks of time to quickly do things that negatively impact my mental health (paying bills, talking about hard things, worrying {yes, I sometimes schedule time to worry}). I plan for hard things and during hard times so that my brain has something to dwell on when times are tough. Then, when the bad things happen, I can fall back on my logical plan that I thought through before emotions hit. When I struggled with money, I took comfort in making a budget, selling various items, planning for what I would do when I finally had some money. When I worried, I could remember that I have a plan, and each baby step pushed me closer to the end of the rough time.

Corona has destroyed me. I wasn’t ready. I had no plan. I truly didn’t think about what might happen with this virus. I don’t think anyone did. I don’t normally keep up with current events (judge me, please), so about two weeks ago, when the U.S. got their first case and it started popping up on various social media feeds, I heard about it for the first time. Tennessee wasn’t even one of the first states to get a case. Now we’re up to 615 in a matter of a couple weeks. Knox County alone had one case on March 13th, now we have 12 confirmed.

I have a science background, I understand quite a bit about viruses and how to prevent them. I support shelter-in-place and think everyone who can stay home for the next month or so should do so. Logic says washing your hands, staying home from anything unnecessary, staying away from people, and disinfecting everything will keep David and me safe. Logic says. Logical Brittany says.

Then there’s the anxiety. I’m still going in to work as of today. David stocks overnight at Walmart, so he’ll be going in unless he gets sick or decides to voluntarily stop work without pay. We are both bringing home a whole viral world every day. I am vigilant, but I’m not perfect. Neither is he. What if we touch our eyes at work? What if we come home and pass the virus onto something in our home? I can’t feasibly wash our clothes as soon as we walk in. We can only sanitize and wash our hands so much. What if I give David the virus and he gets really sick? Because of the state of hospitals, he’d have to go through that alone.

I’m not scared of getting sick and possibly dying. I’m not scared of David getting sick and dying. I’m scared of the uncertainty of if I will get sick. If David will get sick. If one or both of us will lose our jobs. If our finances will be impacted.

I’m sad for the life I took for granted two weeks ago. I hugged my friends, ate lunch at a restaurant, held a hand, put my arm around someone, sat in ladies class at church, went on a walk with a colleague…all for the last time for the foreseeable future.

I’m sad for the life I was planning that is now on hold. I had made the decision to finally fork out the money to run an actual 5K race for my birthday. Now it’s definitely going to be postponed, if not cancelled altogether. I signed up for a boat race with my company for early summer—probably postponed, maybe cancelled. My mom and I were talking about a trip to Maine this summer, but I don’t know if it will be safe to do so by then. I don’t know, and that’s what is killing me.

And I know I’m not the only one. I posted in my fitness Facebook group, Women Lifting Women, to see how everyone was holding up mentally, and there are so many brave women out there who are nurses, custodians, technicians, kitchens, and banks, some of which are pregnant or immunocompromised, that continue to show up for work every day to help others. These women are anxious. They are worried about their health and that of their families, but they keep going.

Because we will get through it. Together. Six feet apart, but together.

There are so many people in this world that I love. So many people that I wish I could hug right now and say “it’s going to be okay.” I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss “normal” life. I don’t know how long our lives will be on hold for this pandemic, but I do know that it is, for the whole of the country, the best thing we can do. The more inconvenienced we are now, the more of us there will be on the tail end of this.

If, like me, you are struggling, please talk to someone. I know some states (New York for sure) are making mental health resources more readily available and more affordable for people struggling to cope during this time. Reach out to one. Talk to someone. Find a creative outlet. This is mine. If I can get my feelings to words, I am better able to manage them. Maybe you can draw or paint or play music. Do it. Do whatever you can to express how you are feeling. We are all scared. We are all uncertain. We have to be able to feel these things…but we also have to be able to move through them. Yes, it hurts. Yes, the same feelings will probably come at you for another punch in an hour or a day. But we still have to move through them.

If I were in a better mental state, I would invite you all to reach out to me, but honestly, I don’t think I could handle that right now. But please find someone you can talk to. Let this person know that you aren’t looking for them to fix your worries, just to hear you express yourself. The first step to moving through feelings is to identify them.

Take care of yourselves and others ❤ I love you all,

bp

Resources:

Coronavirus Anxiety Helpful Tips

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Mental Health America: Covid19

What 2019 Taught Me

Live in a State of Thankfulness

Many, many times this year I was  forced to recognize just how much I really am blessed with. When we first moved, I realized that our small town life was pretty great. We were settled there. We had friends, a great church, a good job, a wonderful home, and just everything was generally great except for the stress of my job and the struggle of a city girl living in a small town. We had a nice life over there, but I don’t think I really thought about what we would be giving up until we moved. We were ready to live on our own, we needed somewhere David could find a job, I wanted a bigger city. We got all of those things, but we lost so much. we didn’t lose our friends, but we did lose being able to see them frequently. We lived right down the road from two of our best friends and in the same house as another. Everyone we cared about in that town was within a five or ten minute drive. I didn’t realize at the time how much I needed my friends. I thrived on talking to them regularly. I loved coming home and venting with Michelle about our awful jobs and how stressed we were. I miss nights where we were all home for dinner and we cooked and watched a movie together. 

I wish there was a way to know you’re in “the good ole days”, before you’ve actually left them.

Andy Bernard


Once we moved, we hit all kinds of rough patches from huge medical bills to a bad job to having to pay bills on a credit card to not having any friends. With all the new struggles we were facing, not only did I have 20/20 hindsight into how nice we had it in the small town, but I also was forced to look at what we did have. We made do with just the food in our pantry for several weeks (old chips, oatmeal, pasta, etc.). We have bought very few new items, and only a few from thrift stores. We still only have one car even though we dreamed of getting a second. 


BUT


We had food to eat. We had a car that ran. We had a place to live and air conditioning to keep us from melting inside it. We had family and friends who love and care for us with everything from spare change to prayers to checks. I kept a running list of things I was thankful for during this time.

If you are struggling in any way, keep a list of things you have, things and people you are thankful for. Put it on your bathroom mirror or in your car. It changes the way you think about your days when you come from a thankful standpoint.

Stick to the Plan

Before we moved, I had a plan. I had a well thought-out plan. A Brittany-perfectionist grade plan. And if I had just followed that plan, we would be in a completely different place than we are now.


I learned this year that I naturally have a logical, rational approach to everything in my life. This intuition has served me well in my almost 24 years of life. I plan everything I can. I prepare for any scenario especially the worst one, and if I just follow my plans, everything (for the most part) turns out okay. 


This one time I followed an impulse, everything fell apart. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but in all honesty, we would have accomplished everything on our list of goals if I had stuck with my plan for a steady paycheck instead of jumping for the possibility of a higher compensation . However, now, since I neglected my plan, we are way behind where we would have been if I had stuck to my plan.


I am a smart person. I know what needs to be done, and there’s a reason my brain works like this. If I make a plan, I am unstoppable. Just stick to the plan Brittany.

Lean on Others

In college, I had a group of friends that I lived with in the dorm. We were inseparable… until they transferred to another school together. Without me. Introducing Jonathan, one of the counselors at my school. He was my best friend during that first semester sans my friends. I was struggling, and he could help. He showed me ways to channel my frustration and sadness, how to ground myself during a panic attack, and how to discuss my feelings with others. (Still working on that last one.) The main point: I was in need of support and guidance, and I sought it out through the free counseling program at my school.

Last year I struggled, but I didn’t ask for help. I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and worked hard. Luckily, people noticed I was in need, and they reached out to me. Once a few people helped us out with money, groceries, etc. I realized that people want to help. Especially those in the church, friends and family. They want to see you succeed, and they want to help however they can. If you just ask, they get to help you and you get the help you need: a win/win.

Recently I’ve begun leaning on friends and family more and more. I’ve asked for advice, for a listening ear, a quick chat, funny memes to cheer me up, all kinds of things. And guess what? They were there for me every time. Life is hard, but we don’t have to do it alone. Whatever you’re going through, someone has done it before and can offer advice or just a knowing ear to hear you out. If you go to church, lean on the church. God’s people provide for each other. Lean on others, don’t shoulder everything alone.

2019 was a time of disappointment and struggle. It showed me that I am tougher and weaker than I believed. I have learned more about myself in 2019 and the first two months of 2020 than I did during my entire time in college.

And, as of March 21st, 2020, looking back on the end of 2019, those were the good ole days compared to now.

2019 Review

This.

Year.

Was.

Rough.


I’ll begin by saying that 2019 did not go as planned. Like at all. Back in January, I was steadily employed by my former college as an administrative assistant/caterer. The pay was pretty good for where we lived, the hours were steady most of the time (except for some catering early mornings and late nights), and we were doing okay. The job was heckin’ stressful, but I got to be stressed out and work through problems with my friends who I love. I also got to stay in contact with teachers from college, and everyone in the small town that I loved. It was a tiny town, and pretty much everyone I knew was invested in the college. I got to participate in stressful, yet exquisite catering events that kept me moving and learning knew things. Looking back now, I kind of miss that aspect of my old job—solving problems on my feet, in the moment, always moving and doing something different.I had evenings free to go see my other friends in theater performances, go out to eat, workout, ride my bike, watch a movie etc. In hindsight, other than the location of the town (nothing close to it) and the stress of my job, we were doing really well there. We were saving money, seeing our friends, and, except those two things, doing really well.


We knew we wanted to move when David graduated, but we were unsure where we wanted to look. Mount Juliet and Knoxville, TN were both candidates, and I think we chose Knoxville in March. By June, we had moved there. It was a couple weeks after David’s graduation, I had a nice job lined up where I would make about $2500/month, we had a place to live, and so on. Everything was set up perfectly with my plan. Until I threw out everything I had planned to grasp at the possibility of a higher paycheck. Nevermind that I’d be making double our expected expense amount, and we would have plenty to save and put away toward other things (2nd car, student loans that would start in November 2019, furniture, etc.). The possibility of making a bunch of money, two cars, and buying my mom a new house had too much sway in my judgement, and I made a rash decision to leave that whole plan behind to chase the bigger paycheck.
To read about that catastrophe, click here.


After that job, I humbled myself and crawled back to another company I had turned down for a job back in May, and I basically just said, “I will take any open position that you have.” And that’s the entire story of how I got my job as a receptionist at a mortgage company. Honestly, I don’t get paid very much, but this job has been a huge blessing in our life. I have a purpose every day to go to work and bring home a paycheck to pay for the bills we have stacked up. I have made new friends and love working for this company. I don’t necessarily love the job, but I love the company I work for and the people I work with. At the end of February, I will be able to apply for other jobs in the company, and I will hopefully find something more fulfilling to make money and pass the time until I can pursue my passions.

I felt like my entire life was on hold since my graduation in December 2017. I worked in the cafeteria waiting for David to graduate, then we hit hard and we’re having to be patient while we climb back up to our starting point. I feel like I can’t do anything I want to do because of money or our super weird schedules. I feel like I have no free time, I see my husband for maybe an hour a day, and I feel like all I have time to do is work, drive to work, and sleep. But that’s how it feels for a lot of people who work full time jobs. We never have time for anything. My hope is that soon I will move to a day shift job where I can have evenings free to be more involved in my church and maybe get a second job. Dreaming about the future and counting our blessings are what has kept us going.

This year has had ups and many, many downs, but I can honestly say that as 2020 begins, I am optimistic at what David and I can accomplish this year. We don’t have a ton of plans other than working as much as possible to pull ourselves out of this hole we’ve been in, but I hope that by next fall, we have some free time to actually enjoy life.

Week 38

You’re in a room with a group of people who all share the same opinion on a certain topic. Do you go with the flow or argue the counterpoint?

Honestly, I love playing devil’s advocate. Not in a hostile way, but if someone happened to be having an idea, I would argue the opposite to make sure they thought of all the things that could be against them. So, honestly, I think I would argue the opposite regardless of whether I have the same opinion or not.

Uber short response. XD

bp

An Update

It has been three months since I’ve visited my own site. Three months of sitting, unvisited, gathering virtual dust.

It’s fine. I’m human. I’m not going to beat myself up about not following through with my plan to finish out the year. I finished 33 weeks of the 52-week challenge in a year (two months, really). I posted regularly for a good portion of that time. I’m proud that I did that.

I am a little disappointed that I didn’t do one post a week in the first place. I’m disappointed that I didn’t finish. I’m sad that I haven’t touched my blog since November 21st.

I am happy, however, at the things that have happened since then that distracted me from writing on here. I worked really hard at the university’s Benefit Dinner that my job catered. I showed my boss and everyone above them that I am capable of more than they had seen so far. Surprise, I’m a leader.

I went to visit my husband’s family for Christmas and met tons of relatives and friends. I got to see my in-laws. We have a baby nephew who was born just after we left there over the summer. We got to see him at 4 months old, and he’s so chunky and wonderful and adorable and perfect. Just precious.

I got to visit my family after his. Seeing my family is always a joy. I also got to see a few of my closest friends while I was in town. The time I spent with family and friends replenished my soul ❤

I came back to work and have pretty much exhausted myself the past couple weeks with all of the catering events we’ve been working, but today is the last day of that. Then I can relax.

I’m working on bettering myself (more on this in probably the next post), and with that will come a routine to keep myself in check. Writing will be part of this, so a regular post schedule should be happening soon. Stay tuned 🙂

BP

Friendship

There are good ships. There are bad ships, but the best ships are friendships.

When I was younger, I had an embarrassingly large collection of keychains. (So maybe I actually still have it tucked up in the closet, but that’s irrelevant now.) I had one little rectangle one that was full of blue glitter and little ship confetti that had this saying on it. It probably comes from somewhere from an important person, but I remember this little keychain with the handy little saying to help me remember the important things in life.

I never had a lot of friends growing up. I was “friends” with a lot of people: classmates, teammates, etc.; I did not, however, grow close to many of them. I had several people rotate through the “best friend” slots in my life, but only a few stayed for the long haul. In my eyes, though, having a small number of really good friends made more sense than having lots and lots of semi-friends. Depth over breadth, right? I think so.

This past weekend I was able to watch one of my best friends get her nursing pin and walk the stage in her cap and gown with her BSN, and I’ve never been more proud of anyone in my life.

This girl deserves more success and happiness than anyone. She has worked so hard through school to realize her dream of becoming a nurse. Long nights of studying, difficult teachers, other students (good and bad), loss, success, frustration, happiness, and lots in between. She conquered it all. She walked across that stage with her head held a mile high—deservedly so—while her family and I beamed with pride.

This woman said way back in high school that she was going to be a nurse. She had to retake classes because of unfavorable events by counselors; she had to study long hours and drink lots of coffee and energy drinks while staying up studying tiny body parts and the complex inner mechanisms of the body. She set out to accomplish something, and she did it. She gets to live her dream. She gets to work at something she enjoys. I hope it challenges her and fulfills her hopes and dreams. I know she is going to be an amazing nurse, and I am so proud of her for all she has accomplished.

I will say, though, that second to watching my beautiful friend walk across the stage, the best part of the day was watching her interact with her Mamaw. Mamaw is in a wheelchair, she is ninety-three years old, and she is incredibly proud of Becca. Watching the two interact made my heart swell and brought tears to my eyes. Pride is sometimes construed as negative and selfish, but I can promise that pride in others, especially those closest to you, is such a pure emotion. Watching someone you love accomplish grand things in their life fulfills something inside of your own heart. Mamaw definitely swelled with pride at Becca accomplishing so much. Smiles all around from Mamaw the whole evening, and the sweet words and hugs were shared afterward—happily caught on camera.

Becca has been my friend since middle school, and man, if you knew me in middle school, you know that it takes a special person to love you through that. But she did. She has been one of the friends that stuck by my side through everything, and I appreciate her more than she will ever know.

Thank you for letting me be part of your day, and thank you for letting me capture the special moments throughout ❤

The Beginning of a Quest

An exercise for my Advanced Composition class had students sit with a pen and paper and write any question that came to their heads. The purpose was to help us brainstorm topics for an upcoming creative nonfiction paper. This is what I’ve learned from mine.

Why is the wind blowing so hard outside?

Is my pen going to run out of ink during this exercise? (yes)

Why did I not talk to a friend for over a year?

Why are fountain pens the best?

Why is planning therapeutic for some, yet unbearably stressful for others?

Why is motivation so fleeting?

Where did my motivation go?

Did my motivation possess someone else?

If so, is it at least doing someone some good?

Why does Faber-Castell ink dry so fast in the nibs of my pens?

If I mixed green and blue ink, would it look gross?

Why do a lot of boys spend so much time indoors?

How do you draw a boy outdoors?

Once you get him there, how do you keep him there?

Why do I have such a hard time making decisions?

Why is independence so easy, yet so hard?

Contrary to the silly questions about my fountain pen (which in fact did run out of ink while I was writing this on paper), I pondered the more serious questions about motivation. I finish things. I have never started a paper and not finished it. I have never quit after cleaning only half a room. I finish things.

Except when it comes to my personal growth. I start eating healthy, running, being fit, but a month or two later, you will find me at Dairy Queen twice a week. I resolve to read my Bible every day. A week or two later, my Bible sits gathering dust on the shelf. It seems the only personal growth resolution I’ve followed through on is getting more sleep. Why? Why is it so hard to stay motivated to do things that will make me a much better, happier person in the near future?

Even the title of my blog reflects my half-finished, indecisive attitude. It is indefinitely untitled because I could never think of a title I wouldn’t want to change later. Why do I have such a problem with staying motivated to follow through on my personal endeavors?

An exploration of motivation and why it is so fleeting.

Why Everyone Should Start Their Own Blog (from my Odyssey writing)

Blog.jpg

When I first wrote this article, it was unintentionally ruder than I meant it to be, but I couldn’t go back and edit the Odyssey article, so here I am on my own blog, sharing the same, slightly edited, article.

Everyone needs an outlet from life. It’s great, it’s exciting, but sometimes life can get a little overwhelming or stressful, and we need something to do to unwind or escape. Some people read, some play video games and some exercise. What calms and comforts one person may stress another out, and that is why there is such a wide variety of hobbies. Writing is one of those hobbies, and it is a great outlet; it lets you explore topics that you find interesting or that you have yet to explore. You can say what you want about whatever you want (most of the time). I would like to encourage everyone who enjoys writing to get their own blog up and running.

I have a WordPress blog that I pretty much abandoned when I began writing for the Odyssey. I will be picking that backup. Anyway…

Having a blog gives you freedom. You can write about any topic you want! If you are a Beanie Baby connoisseur, write about them. Post pictures to go along with it. Share your passions with the world.

You don’t have to worry about others changing your writing. You write, edit, and publish your own work. There is no one who is going to change your titles, phrases, or headings because they “aren’t catchy enough.” It is your writing, and you can say things how you want. The focus isn’t on others (see below). (This could also have a downside: if your grammar isn’t at its peak, your writing will suffer from this–make sure to proofread.)

There is no minimum or maximum word count or times you must share it to be able to keep writing. If you want to post two paragraphs, GO FOR IT. You can create writing just for you, for you and a few people you share with, or you can write and share it with the world.

You don’t have to have a schedule. If you want to write every two weeks, you can. If you want to write every other day, you can. If you are going on a trip, and you won’t have the internet, you don’t have to write while you’re gone. Share your experience when you get back!

The focus is on you. Not to share share share share share share share on different platforms share share. If you don’t want to share your post on Facebook or Twitter, YOU DON’T HAVE TO. It is about writing. The pure joy and adventure of it. Plain and simple. The joy of putting pen to paper (well, finger to key), and getting your thoughts out there.

You get to connect with new people. I love people. A bonus: you connect with people who are interested in the same things as you and who value what you have to say enough to read your posts.

One day, you could make money. A lot of the bigger name blogs online make a small (sometimes even a large) ,amount of money. If you write about things that many other people want to read about, more people will read your blog. The more traffic your writing gets, you could end up with the opportunity to advertise products and get endorsements from companies. But that’s way down the road. For now, just read my other article to see how easy it is to start your own blog.

So here I go to dust off my old blog and write freely. Wish me luck 🙂

The other post from the Odyssey was not rude-sounding, and therefore is titled “A Guide To Starting Your Own Blog,” and I will share it as “Part 2.”

UPDATE: Liink to Part 2 —>  https://www.theodysseyonline.com/guide-to-starting-your-own-blog

Image from https://www.amazon.com/Spherecalls-Aluminum-Laptop-Silicone-Non-Slip/dp/B010H0XEFK?ie=UTF8&ref_=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_zNuTvb09MPN88